Durst India finds high quality buyers for inkjets in India

Indian JV dominates high speed textile, ceramic decoration and inks

Durst introduced its textile production press, the Alpha Series 5, in both the 190 and 330 versions, with the 330 version on show at the Itma 2019 exhibition. The Alphas feature a number of improvements including a new advanced digital pigment ink for waterless one-step production. Axel Stuhlreiter, Durst’s product manager for Fabrics, says that this latest version benefited from all the feedback Durst has had from the market. This includes improvements to the materials handling, particularly for knitwear. “It has a dual roll which we developed especially for the Pakistani and Indian markets where they need the high volume. They are running 24:7 with this configuration and printing around 5 million square meters per year so dual roll was really important for them.” Photo www.nessancleary.com

We visited Durst India in Greater Noida recently to understand its working with one of the most renowned brands in the imaging industry over the past century. The Indian joint venture with the ink chemist Dr Rajiv Verma goes back about a decade to 2012 and is similar to Durst’s way of working with local partners in several other markets outside of Europe.

The company has legacy of inventions for imaging that made modern cameras possible. Its reflex camera patents include the interlocking between shutter operation and advance of film and numbering in 1947. Our own familiarity with Durst stems from our use of its enlargers to screen and enlarge pan film and scanner color separations in the 1970s.

Durst is currently a digital imaging company relying on inkjet technologies. It manufactures wide-format Rho and Rhotex signage printers, Tau digital label presses, Gamma XD ceramic printers and Alpha textile printers and more recently in a joint venture with Koenig & Bauer, an inkjet corrugated board press. The Koenic & Bauer Durst collaboration has just installed a Delta SPC 130 single-pass press with water-based food-safe inks for corrugated packaging of food in Austria. 

The Durst India joint venture sells the wide format printers and digital textile printers directly with textile industry veteran Vivek Singh heading the sales operations in the South Asia region. The Durst Tau digital label presses are sold through a distributor based in Chennai. Vivek Singh, explained that although the company’s printers are at the high end of the various segments they address, Durst India has been able to establish a surprisingly robust footprint of installations in both the signage and digital textile industry. In addition, the company dominates the ceramic tile decoration industry with more than 70 installations of its Gamma XD printers in the tile manufacturing capital of the country in Morbi in Gujarat as well as its supply of inks and decorative colors to the overwhelming majority of tile and pottery makers in the country.

Vivek Singh heads the sales operations for Durst in the South Asia region.

In our recent meeting Singh explained that while Durst printers are expensive for most businesses, there are a good number that are able to leverage the quality and speed of the company’s devices. He gave examples of Mumbai-based MMT which operates nine digital signage printers and of Bliss Impex a digital textile printer in Gurugram in the Delhi NCR who produces 20,000 square meters of printed textiles daily.

Durst India has sufficient high-performance installations in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka to keep its 20 service engineers stationed in Moresby, Ahmedabad, and Gurgaon on their toes. In addition, it has two engineers at its labs in Greater Noida for refurbishing inkjet heads. The Greater Noida plant is also where the colors for the ceramics are produced and it has recently started manufacturing digital textile prints.

Digital textile printing avoids pollution and saves water

Durst sold its first digital textile printer into India in 2013. Singh says the Indian market matured by 2016 with the capacity to induct 200 square meters an hour digital textile printers. Explained the evolution of faster textile printers, he says, “The first textile printer introduced by Durst was back in 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. In a span of 8 years, we evolved and have recently introduced a textile printer that can print 1,400 square meters an hour. With our latest range of printers, we plan to target textile producers, who have production close to 3,00,000 meters a month.” 

The success of Durst India seems to be in being able to convince future-seeking entrepreneurs in what were earlier seen as unstructured or unorganized sectors relying on manual operations. Singh says, “Digital textile printing is growing exponentially in India. Digital is a future-oriented technology. The processing of textiles requires a huge amount of water and labor. The after-effect of the entire process is widespread pollution. With the rising labor costs, one has to adopt digital technology. There is also a rise in waterless printing technologies. After the processing of textiles, millions of gallons of water is wasted on steaming and washing that goes down as wastewater, unfit for consumption even after many years and contaminates freshwater if mixed with it.”

Durst uses pigment-based inks for printing. This reduces the wastage of millions of gallons of water by using a pigment that is an insoluble ink carrier instead of a dye that is a soluble ink carrier to provide coloration. These inks contain resin binders that allow the pigment particles to adhere to the fabric and allow the ink to be used for a range of fabric types. 

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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